Democracy is for Sissies

Is it just me or does it seem that our politicians are ruling via subterfuge? It seems like most government made decisions are one big shell game: ‘quick, look over there, shiny’ while a new tax is shoved down our throats. We can’t even count on them to maintain the integrity of their own values and ethics throughout the course of their time in power. Democracy has become code for bait and switch.

This week in politics in BC, our Premier, Christy Clark, has decided that the culture at the BC Legislature is ‘sick’ and that she tries to stay away from it as much as possible. She likened it to the complaints made about the ‘beltway’ in Washington, DC. These comments, originally made in May, were released when it was announced that the legislature would not sit this fall. Clark clearly has an overblown sense of her importance. To compare BC politics to what happens in Washington, DC is like talking about your acne problem when you have a little zit.[1] All of senior civil servants, you know those people who provide crucial factual information to government politicians, all sit in Victoria. If she is not there, she can’t get all the information to make policy decisions. If her ministers behave as she does, they will also not be getting crucial information with which to make decisions.

Cancelling the fall sitting of the legislature is hubris at its worst. The provincial government just announced that revenues are $1 billion dollars below projections. If the legislature does not sit, then the opposition does not get access to this information to ask questions. I actually think there is a more sinister reason for not having a fall sitting. The timing of this supposed deficit announcement is curious. It is a little more than 6 months before the next election. I predict the BC Liberals will have a feel-good budget delivered in February and the shortfall will become a windfall. Everyone in government will slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves on their uber-financial management skills. They will then start the dog and pony show as they hand out the pre-election goodies. Personally, I am tired of being bought with my own money.

We can’t even count on politicians to stay true to their own beliefs in values. Apparently, once upon a time, Stephen Harper was against omnibus bills yet his government has passed one and has another one planned for the fall. Whoops! There goes your democracy right down the omnibus toilet.

All of this begs a much bigger question: when did democracy become a game of collusion and subterfuge? When did political parties abandon ideology and brokerage politics?[2] I used to think brokerage politics was a horrible development, now I long for those days where you could still tease a little bit of ideology from party platforms. Politics is now a game of confuse the voter, say whatever you need to so you are elected then do whatever the hell you want. Re-election campaigns start right after an election. We used to get a measure of peace in the first 2 years after an election, now the attack ads start almost immediately.

Leadership seems to be something that is missing from all politicians modus operandi. Real leaders build consensus, they answer tough questions and they lay out a vision for the future. We are so short on any kind of vision as everyone is focused on the next election. If you are an effective leader, you don’t have to resort to confusion and downright lies to convince people to follow you. If you want to lead effectively you have to be accountable; people watch your every move; you are a role model. I see no role models amongst the current crop of politicians. Instead they are all focused on maintaining their positions of authority even when they can’t stand to work at their place of employment.


[1] Primarily this is due to structural differences. In the US there is no party discipline to speak of so every vote is up for grabs. That means lobbyists are trying to convince 535 people of their position each time there is a vote.

[2] Brokerage politics saw the reduced reliance on ideology for policy decisions. Parties tended to move towards the centre so they had a better chance of getting elected.

Republican Assholes

Not a day goes by that I am thankful I live in Canada and not the USA. Consider this lovely quote from Todd Akin who is running for the US Senate, in Missouri:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”H/T Shakesville

So in Akin’s narrow little world, us women-folk have the ability to know when we are being ‘legitimately raped.’ And, our bodies, the wonders they are, can discern the difference between legitimate and illegitimate sperm! Does the cervix just close up shop? Does the egg scream ‘no, you can’t impregnate me you legitimate raper!’ Let’s take this a step further. What defines a ‘legitimate rape.’ Clearly it depends on the victim. Given many of the Republican’s beliefs one can guess that the victim of a legitimate rape would be white, Christian, and virginal. Not a virgin – your rape is bogus even if you have all the signs of a legitimate rape; a sex-trade worker, you weren’t raped, you just didn’t get paid; college student taking birth control, you weren’t raped you planned for it.

Now let’s talk about the no abortion for rape victims even when the woman’s body fails to recognize the sperm of a ‘legitimate rapist.’ No abortion for you! Instead, we are going to protect that child and make you give birth to it – which, I am sure, would feel like being raped all over again. The thing about how these regressive pricks view women means that at some level all women are harlots and asking for it. It is as though the mere presence of our vaginas makes us want to have sex. And those men in Washington are bound and determined to control women’s vaginas!

Now, you may ask, why I am getting all upset about this little gem. After all, it is not as though Todd Akin is going to come up here and get all up in our Canadian vaginas. He doesn’t have to. Our Canadian media covers enough American politics to ensure that his message is spread here. Canada’s abortion debate has been closed since the 1980s. Yet, this year, Motion 312 came to the floor of the House of Commons to further ‘clarify’ when a fetus becomes a human being. Up until this point, it was at birth. Even though Stephen Harper assured all of us women that he had no interest in re-opening the abortion debate, he has, nonetheless, allowed this motion to come to the floor brought by one of his MPs: Stephen Woodworth. So even though Akin and his ilk can’t make policy here they can sure influence it. This is even more so when Conservatives are in power in Canada. With a Liberal government, social conservatism really does not gain much traction here on the policy front. We can only hope that this motion is ultimately defeated. The fact that it saw the light of day is still so disturbing.

 I found a new blog. It is called Vets Behaving Badly. I have gotten into a disagreement with them about raw-feeding. I posted this very long comment (actually broken into 3 parts) on this thread.


I find it interesting that because so many of you disagree with me you cast me as a lunatic. But whatever.

So, Don!, I think the diet you are feeding your dog is awesome. I am not completely against kibble. In fact, here at the Swamp, the dogs get high quality kibble and canned about once a month. We call it McDonald’s for dogs. Our dogs also eat a variety of other stuff in addition to RMBs.

One of the vets said that it is not possible to teach everything in vet school and that what education does is teach one how to think and how to solve a problem. Well that can be true of many other degrees and disciplines. I have a Master of Arts degree and I have also been taught how to think and research. Sadly for all of you, you do not have the market cornered on critical thinking. Now, let’s debunk some of the stuff you are saying about feeding raw.

First off one of you has pointed out that dogs are not true carnivores. You said they are opportunist scavengers and not hunters (although I am sure anyone who has ever lived with a terrier would argue that dogs are indeed hunters). So if dogs are scavengers it stands to reason that they would eat carrion and other such stuff. Carrion would be full of all sorts of bacteria and other stuff, yet the dogs can eat it and they have no problem. So if they can eat half rotten meat and other stuff why can’t they eat human grade raw meaty bones that come from the grocery store? I really would like an answer to this question. If you trot out the ‘Oh no the salmonellas will kill them’ argument you will lose. Please give me a reasoned answer.

Dogs are not meant to eat corn. In fact, if you do some research you will see that the same thing that happened to human food (over-processing, full of corn) is killing us. It is also killing our pets. Dogs are not meant to eat a diet where the first ingredient is corn! Then there is the ever ubiquitous ‘_____ meal’. This stuff is rendered parts of animals that humans don’t consume and turned into a meal for dogs to eat. Why would you want to feed your dog rendered ground up chicken feathers and other such crap?  It is not bio-available to them for digestion. Then there is the ‘lets cook it at extremely high temperatures and extrude it out of machine’ process. Sounds nummy doesn’t it! Another huge issue with kibble is that dogs must reconstitute it in their guts so they can digest it. According to another vet this keeps them in a constant state of slight dehydration for their entire lives.

Now, lest you feel like you can just dismiss me as a crackpot why don’t you listen to some of your colleagues? Here are 2 links to other vets who disagree with you:

Dr. Karen Becker on why grain-free diets are not optimal for pets:

Dr. Peter Dobias answering some of the common objections (remember the ‘oh no the salmonellas!’ argument.

In fact, Dr. Dobias has never seen a case of salmonella in a raw fed dog. How do you explain that? He feeds his animals raw.

I was against feeding raw for a very long time. I only came to it reluctantly because we had a 3-year old shihtzu who developed a bladder stone. When it was removed it looked exactly like a piece of Iams kibble which she had been eating her whole life. As we did research about how to prevent further bladder stones we discovered that she needed to eat a lower pH diet. Our vet could not recommend anything at the time that would meet this criteria (it was before grain-free kibbles and foods). The solution was raw. She never had another stone.

Now onto the vaccine issue as some of you think that raw feeders are also against vaccines. We vaccinate our dogs. We do not do it every year as protocols are slowly changing at least in Canada. After age 5 the only vaccine they get every three years is rabies. Again, critical thinking has been instrumental in our decision about vaccines. We believe puppies must be vaccinated but we don’t buy that dogs need them every year. We don’t need vaccines every year of our life so why would dogs? The only exceptions to this are the flu shot and perhaps bordetella for dogs.

One more thing about raw-fed dogs is that they are healthier. We have not had to treat for fleas in so many years I have lost count. Yet we live in a high flea area. Our dogs do not get parasites anymore. When we fed kibble we had to treat for worms yearly. Don’t even get me started about the hookworm infection of 2001! We had 6 dogs with bloody diarrhea. Since feeding raw the dogs have never had worms again. Parasites are just not able to overwhelm healthy raw-fed dogs in the same way they do with kibble-fed dogs.

Someone also questioned how much dog experience I have. My partner and I have been involved in rescue for 15+ years. We have fostered, adopted and reared over 25 dogs in that time. We have seen dogs given 2 months to live because of cancer come here and live for 2 years. I know this is anecdotal but I think it bears discussing. Cancers feed on carbs (it is the same thing in humans). If you deprive those cells of sugar they don’t grow as fast. We have never had a dog with pancreatitis or a bone obstruction. Dogs are meant to crunch up raw bones! (the exception, of course, being large ungulates).

I am not a crack pot because I feed raw. It was a well thought out decision. Once we saw the results we could never go back. I personally know at least 30 other raw feeders and no one has ever had a case of salmonella or bone obstruction or e. coli. All of these people are feeding anywhere between 2-11 dogs. We and other vets cannot all be wrong.

Ongoing plumbing saga

It has now been 2 weeks and the plumbing contractors are still not done. The driveway is a mess so we have to access the house by going across the lawn, which is a dangerous wet mess. Plus some of our trees are a bit out of control so it resembles bushwhacking in some places.

I am also getting increasingly frustrated, as the demands of the district seem outrageous. With the new system, everything flows into a holding tank. The tank has a pump so that it can move the sewage out as we have zero gravity here. The pump has to be on an alarm in case it dies. Today I find out that we also need a freaking generator for the pump in case the power goes out! Oh and don’t forget the fact that we had to have an engineer sign off on the whole project.

I sometimes wonder if city councils are in collusion with contractors to make things cost as much as much as possible so that everyone makes money. I just don’t understand why such a simple thing costs so much money. Le sigh.

The ‘Big’ News of the Day

As I toiled away in relative obscurity today on yet another repetitive grant application, I was regaled with the same news story over and over. It was about cell phones. No it was not the usual yourbrainisgoingtorotandyou’regoingtogetcancer story. As the day went on the story became more sensationalized. It was quite apparent why they chose today after all it was the launch of the iPhone 4s which meant the media had captive lines of smartphone wielding consumers with whom they could shock.

So what is this big revelation you ask? Some researchers in Britain swabbed some smartphones and found out there were reams of bacteria on them. Including, wait for it, fecal matter! Oh my god! We should all throw our smartphones in the nearest river lest we get infested with some rogue bacteria.

I have news for everyone. There are bacteria on EVERYTHING! The fecal matter is no big surprise either. I suspect that almost every smartphone user has been guilty of using their phone in the bathroom. And, of course, where there is fecal matter there must be e. coli. Just like the salmonellas[1], the e. colis are to be feared.

So what does all this mean? Nothing is the short answer. There are bacteria everywhere and surprisingly none of us are dead from the proliferation of the bacteria. In fact, bacteria are good for us. Exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses challenges our immune systems. There are more bacteria on your average office desk than on a toilet seat. The last time I checked no one has died from eating their lunch at their desk.

The researchers explained why smartphones were ideal surfaces for bacteria. Mostly because the phones became warm with use and we create moisture when we talk into them. The solution suggested by the researchers was for smartphone users to sanitize their phones with wipes on a regular basis. I have a better suggestion. Don’t worry about it. Seriously, it is not going to radically change your life unless you are in the habit of licking and sucking on your smartphone. </sarcasm>

[1] Oh no not the Salmonellas?!?

Rant of the Day

I haven’t ranted for a while so here goes! I apologize in advance that most of it is traffic related. I will say that on days I am stressed

  • Truckers are assholes. Seriously. It is a nightmare on the MaryHill Bypass. They take up both lanes and drive in tandem. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are 50 cars behind them with drivers becoming increasingly frustrated. Seriously there should be a law against this as this is what causes some of the infamous backups on our roads.
  • My next thing is about people who pull out in front of you without gauging how fast traffic is going. I was on 128th ave, which is on the back way out of Maple Ridge, and a car just turned left right in front of me. I had to whale on the brakes so that I didn’t hit him and when I honked he gave me the finger. I don’t understand how or why some people are allowed to drive.
  • The other thing I must rant about is about Harper’s plan to spend lots of money on the war of 1812. Why on fucking earth we need to rub it in to the Americans that we won is unclear. What is even more unclear is why we need to spend millions of dollars doing it when we have a budget deficit. It makes absolutely no sense. What is interesting is that while Conservatives preach fiscal restraint, historically it is Conservative governments that ring up the biggest deficits. In this case, Harper is following Mulroney in fine form. Harper needs to give his head his shake and stop the waste.

My Hair Sucks

I have had a problem with my hair for a very long time. I like to have it short and spikey. However, since I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about 10 years ago, the headgear I have to wear messes with my hair. My hair is very coarse and really has a mind of its own. My latest problem is a line of flattened hair in the middle of my head. Nothing will make this hair stand up like the rest of it. Given that I have struggled with this for 10 years, I decided it was time to do something about it after I had purchased every single hair care product and unless they are coming out with and instant dry steel like substance nothing is going to change.

The only solution is to grow it out. Knowing that there will be several awkward stages along the way, including right now, hats seemed like a good solution. I have never worn a hat, ever. I have never looked good in hats, or so I thought. Deb and I went hat shopping and we found 5 hats. I got a couple of fedoras and a cloche hat. I am not sure what the others are however Deb probably knows.

Having never worn a hat in public it took me a couple of weeks to work up the courage. On Sunday, I decided to try out wearing a hat. It went ok so on Tuesday I wore one to work. Most people like the hat and complimented me on it. I kept in on all day. Later I happened to take the hat off in the bathroom to scratch and I noticed that my hair was flat! The line was gone. My version of hat-head is actually an improvement. Only in Shihtzustaff world! So now I just need to wear a hat for a bit and my hair is flat and looks just fine. I am going to grow my hair out as it really is time for a change.

There’s Something Happening Here

The western world appears to be on the brink of something really important happening. After witnessing so many people from different countries creating meaningful change in their lives through courage, protest and persistence, it would seem that the rest of us are waking up to our corporatized lives and not liking what we are seeing. After all, if the Egyptians can oust Hosni Mubarak then what could we do if tried?

Over the last 20 years the American middle class has been steadily eroded. Peoples’ dreams of working hard and getting ahead are completely gone; they have evaporated in the pursuit of corporate profits. This is why we no longer have well paying, union jobs in North America. After all, if the shareholders aren’t happy and don’t get a bigger dividend every year heads will roll.

The American government (and to some extent the same is true here) is completely out of touch with what is actually going on in America today. If the rich and the corporations don’t have to pay taxes that leaves just working Americans to shoulder the tax burden. As wages have declined and the cost of living has risen, there is no longer money left for discretionary spending. Hell, for many Americans there is nothing left; they have lost their house, their cars and most of all their pride in being American.

So here’s the thing: if you’ve got nothing to lose you might be prepared to do things you might not normally do. Desperation pushes people out of their comfort zones and forces them to grapple for solutions. Of course I am referring to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests. If you go here, there is actually footage of people drinking champagne above the protesters on Wall Street. Can you say out of touch?

It is my fervent hope that in fact something is going on here. Rioting youth in England and protesters in the United States are all pointing to the same thing. We have governments, which are completely out of touch with their citizenry. We have corporations in control in Canada, the US and Europe. We are all slaves to the mighty profit whether we benefit from it or not. When you take things away from people they will tolerate it for a while but there will come a time when you have taken so much away that they have nothing to lose. And people with nothing to lose are very powerful – just ask Hosni Mubarak.

There’s Something Happening Here

Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Telemarketing Hell

Our phone rings anywhere between 5 and 10 times a day with some kind of marketing call. I don’t have to tell you all how frustrating it is when you run to the phone because you are expecting an important call only to hear nothing or the voice of a marketer. I think the calls where there is no one there are perhaps the worst.

I have started to get really annoyed with these calls. It seems to me that the telemarketers are getting more aggressive; they are rude when you challenge them. Plus some of the scams, in particular the ‘there is something wrong with your computer’ scam is probably the most dangerous.

I headed over to the Do Not Call site to verify that my number is on the list and it is. I thought I would check out how things are supposed to work. First of all, there are still some people who can call you even if you are on the list. Charities and political parties can call you. Any company you have done business with in the last 18 months is exempt from the list. Ironically, newspapers can call to sell subscriptions. The recommendation is to ask to be placed on these organizations’ internal do not call lists. The big exception to all of this is polling and research firms. They are completely exempt from the Do Not Call (DNC) list and they do not keep internal DNC lists.

There are a bunch of rules that govern how the DNC list works. You can check it out at their site. I think telling them you are on the list and threatening to report them is the best defense. I know I am going to start doing it.